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Morning Roundup - September 14th

From the Wall Street Journal, on testing that could help TSA more efficiently screen for harmful liquids and powders:

The Transportation Security Administration has been testing technology that will allow X-ray machines to detect whether a liquid is a threat or not, and once deployed, restrictions on liquids in carry-on baggage could be dropped.

Last October, Kip Hawley, the TSA administrator in the previous administration, had said he thought that would happen in 2009. But now TSA says you'll likely have to keep putting 3.4 ounce bottles in quart-sized bags at least for another year.

"Aggressive testing continues with industry and at the national labs in working towards a solution," TSA spokeswoman Sterling Payne says. One issue: TSA says it anticipates having contracts in place by the end of fiscal year 2010 to purchase enough upgraded machines to cover every federalized airport in the U.S.

That means Sept. 30, 2010.

One new technology that is being rolled out is a test for powders to determine if a particular powder could be used in an explosive. TSA X-ray machines can now, apparently, flag powders for secondary screening while distinguishing common powders, which are all permitted.

"Officers will use X-ray technology to determine which substances may require additional screening'' with a powder test kit, Ms. Payne says. For security reasons, she declined to say how that happens.


From the Associated Press, on a year after Hurricane Ike:

Anne Willis, a lifelong resident of Bolivar Peninsula, moved back to her hometown of Crystal Beach nearly three months after Hurricane Ike.

The storm had shattered homes, leaving only concrete slabs and splintered wooden beams. Electricity had just returned, but at night it was so dark that paper bags floating in the sea breezes resembled ghosts. Services at one church were held for six months under a white tent along a highway.

"There were only 100 people here. Our grocery store had been reopened in an RV," said Willis, a real estate agent. "I thought it was terrible. How are we going to get through this?"

But a year after the devastation, Willis and other southeast Texas residents are surprised and grateful for the progress they've made in coming back from Ike, the costliest natural disaster in Texas history. Ike's powerful storm surge, as high as 20 feet, and its 110 mph winds caused more than $29 billion in damage, destroying thousands of homes and fouling farmland and ranches with saltwater from the Gulf Coast through Houston, 50 miles inland.

Ike made landfall near the island city of Galveston in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2008. While power outages temporarily crippled Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city and the center of the U.S. energy industry, it wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast.


From the San Diego Union Tribune, on increased inspections at the southwest border:

Stepped-up inspections of vehicles heading to Mexico from the United States have yielded more than $40 million in seizures of bulk cash since April, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Alan Bersin told reporters yesterday.

The searches were ordered border-wide by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to cut down on weapons and large sums of cash smuggled from the United States to Mexico to support activities of drug cartels.

Bersin met with reporters before addressing the Institute of the Americas at UC San Diego. During his talk, Bersin touched on a broad range of subjects relevant to the U.S.-Mexico relationship, including immigration reform, drug cartels and travel safety in Mexico.


Leadership Events
1:15 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Influenza Division Deputy Director Dr. Daniel Jernigan will participate in a conference call to discuss a new flu guide issued to small businesses on decreasing exposure to regular seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu

Public Events
9:30 AM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection Sector-Specific Agency Executive Management Office Director Craig Conklin will testify at a field hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology about federal and local efforts to secure radiological sourcesThe State University of New York (SUNY)
Downstate Alumni Auditorium
395 Lenox Road
Brooklyn, N.Y.

10 AM EDT
NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Phil Reitinger and U.S. Secret Service Office of Investigations Assistant Director Mike Merritt will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about protecting industry against the growing threat of cyber attacks
324 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

1 PM CDT
NPPD Infrastructure Visualization Branch Chief Mike Clements, will deliver remarks at the GIS for Oil and Gas Conference 2009
Marriott Westchase Hotel
2900 Briarpark Drive
Houston, Texas

3 PM CDT
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs Allen Gina will participate in a signing ceremony with Chinese Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Xie Feng to repatriate pre-historic fossils back to China.
Chinese Embassy
3505 International Place NW
Washington D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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